Graphic Novel Review: Doctor Strange: The Last Days of Magic; Marvel Platinum: The Definitive Doctor Strange
PUBLISHED: 14:58 21 October 2016
Strange days have found us...
Doctor Strange: The Last Days of Magic
Doctor Strange enters the last days of magic! They have crossed the dimensions, purging them all of sorcery, one by one. Now the Empirikul have arrived in the Marvel Universe. And with Earth's Master of the Mystic Arts weakened beyond measure, is there any chance of stopping them? The Sorcerer is no longer Supreme, and he will find himself at the mercy of the Imperator! With his magic destroyed, and his world on the brink of disaster, are there any more tricks left up Doctor Strange's sleeves? Jason Aaron and Chris Bachalo's sensational reinvigoration of a Marvel legend continues!
Marvel Platinum: The Definitive Doctor Strange
Doctor Stephen Strange was a haughty, self-centred, but incredibly successful surgeon. However, his career ended when Strange had a car accident that damaged the nerves in his hands. In desperation, he travelled the globe searching for a cure until, in a hidden temple in the vastness of Asia, Strange encountered the Ancient One. The mysterious mage taught Strange to become the master of the mystic arts and Earth's Sorcerer Supreme - mankind's defender against the nightmares that lie in wait for the foolish!
After the Fantastic Four, the Hulk, Spider-Man, Thor, Ant-Man and Iron Man, and before the likes of the X-Men and Daredevil, Marvel Comics introduced perhaps the most unconventional and otherworldly character in their pantheon, one who arguably wasn’t even a superhero.
This was Doctor Stephen Strange, a self-professed master of the mystic arts who waged a secret war against extra-dimensional forces on planes of existence separate from our own: the astral plane, the realm of Nightmare, the Dark Dimension of Dormammu, these were the battlegrounds of Dr Strange, a far cry from the familiar streets of Manhattan where Marvel’s other heroes had their adventures.
Living in a Sanctum Sanctorum in Greenwich Village, sporting a dandy goatee and fetching line in cloaks and robes, Strange certainly didn’t gain his powers from exposure to cosmic rays or after being bitten by a radioactive magician. He was an arrogant neurosurgeon who sought the restoration of his hands following a drunken car crash, whose quest took him to the Himalayas and an encounter with an aged mystic known only as the Ancient One.
After foiling a plot by the evil Baron Mordo to kill his mentor, Strange sheds his selfish nature and enters into a humble apprenticeship as the Ancient One’s disciple, learning the ways of magic before returning home to America and eventually becoming Earth’s Sorcerer Supreme.
With a blockbuster movie starring Benedict Cumberbatch due to be released next month, Panini Books have put together their latest greatest hits collection under the Marvel Platinum banner, offering a selection of stories from Strange’s long history designed to appeal to fans old and new looking to explore his comics roots. It’s a formula which has proved remarkably successful in the past, with other tie-ins released to accompany Marvel movies and TV shows over the past few years.
Although many of the issues included here are considered classics in the character’s history, they are somewhat dated by the stilted dialogue, pretentious scripts and general cosmic trippiness, something contemporary audiences will definitely have to bear in mind.
That said, this is a magical journey through Doctor Strange’s history, boasting an otherworldly array of talent including Stan Lee, Steve Dikto, Roy Thomas, Marv Wolfman, Gene Colan, Brian K Vaughan and Marshall Rogers.
Highlights include the first telling of Strange’s origin, his cataclysmic encounter with the extradimensional invader Shuma-Gorath, a fatal clash with the vampire Dracula, and team-ups with the Hulk, the Silver Surfer, the Ghost Rider and even Sgt Fury and his Howling Commandos of WWII.
After that rapid flash through the good Doctor’s career to date, the latest collection of his current series is also available, as The Last Days of Magic promises to drastically upset the mystical status quo in the Marvel Universe for the foreseeable future.
Having ravaged across numerous other dimensions in a ruthless campaign to rid the multiverse of magic, the technologically powered Empirikul have now reached our reality, and after defeating Earth’s other magic-wielders, find themselves face-to-face with Stephen Strange in a final desperate battle.
His powers drained, weakened almost to the brink of death, Strange must call on every last remnant of magic to somehow defeat the Imperator, leader of the Empirikul forces…
Writer Jason Aaron has not only stripped away much of the pomp and ceremony which surrounded the character, but he has brought in a sense of humour, a connection to the normal world which was often lacking in the past, and a feeling of myth and folklore which only adds to the depth of Strange’s world.
When read in conjunction with the Platinum collection it’s like a breath of fresh air, offering a take on the character which is true to his roots but no longer feels caught up in the parameters established during the ‘60s and ‘70s. This is a Doctor Strange for a modern audience, and all the more appealing as a consequence.